Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 101 · 7 months ago

101: Life of a Corporate Spy with Robert Kerbeck

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Back before the days of the Internet, there was a role perhaps more valuable than just about any other: that of the corporate spy. Most people could barely stomach it for an hour, let alone a day. Yet through immense curiosity, concentration, and a "gift of gab," Robert Kerbeck became the world's top corporate spy, extracting information worth hundreds of millions of dollars for global companies. 

His entire story is fascinating, and he's chronicled it in RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street. We're getting a sneak peek of it today.

We're also talking about why short stories are so valuable for writing, his most unusual audition as an actor, and the greatest working experiences he's had with celebrities.

Learn more about Robert and buy a copy of his book at robertkerbeck.com

Support Good People, Cool Things by sharing this episode, picking up some merch at the shop or buying my book: Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. Thanks for listening! 

Good people cool things as a podcast feature and conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing. And here's your host, Joey held. Hello and welcome to good people, cool things. Today's guest is Robert Kurbeck, author of the upcoming book. It drops February twenty two, that's six days from now. Ruse lying the American dream from Hollywood to Wall Street. I am stillbost certain you have never heard of anything that goes on at this book. It dives into the world of corporate spying. It's a wild intersection between Hollywood and Wall Street. Roberts working as an actor while working as a corporate spy as well, just collision of two insane world's universes experiences, and there's so many good things in here. Just why he saw the body? Because they're cool things, good birds eye. It's a good stuff. We're also talking about some of the favorite and least favorite celebrity encounters that Robert has had throughout his career, how he drew from his previous book, Malleu burning, to right ruse and so much more. There we're covering lots of good stuff in here. Robert's a great storyteller and I know you're going to enjoy it. If you'd like to get in touch with the show, you can reach out via facebook, twitter or instagram at GPCT podcast, and you can always support the show by heading over to the Merg shop or the bookstore. All on good people, cool thingscom lots of goodies for you, just like there's lots of goodies and this conversation with Robert to kick things off. For people who are maybe not familiar with you and your work, can you tell us your name in your elevator pitch, but can you also let us know the type of elevator that we're writing on? It's a very dark elevator in the back of the building that no one knows where it is, and you need a key card to get into it, but the key card you stolen from the security guard that you've knocked unconscious. How about that? I love it. Yeah, so you know, my name is Robert Kurbeck and I have written this crazy memoir about my life, is corporate spy called Ruse, lying the American dream from Hollywood Wall Street. Ruse comes out February twenty two and very excited for people to get a glimpse into this world that I was part of for, you know, two thousand and twenty five years. But it's a world that most people don't know about right which is corporate spine. You know, we you know, we've seen the bond films and we know about spies and the Russian China and all of that stuff, but we don't realize that American corporations are spying on each other on a daily basis. They're hiring people like me to do that spine and a billions of dollars are on the line for these corporations for them to learn anything and everything they can about the competitors, about the talent at their competitors, about the projects that the talent is developing. And so it's just an an extremely cutthroat world that most people just have never even heard of. and was this something the first time you were asked to be a corporate spy, where it was this something you were had kind of like heard about, where a little familiar with, or where you also caught off guard, completely caught up guard. I had no idea. I thought I was selling magazine subscriptions or something. So this was quite some time ago now and when I graduated from College I was an English major and I had dreams of, you know, becoming an actor, but I didn't quite have the gumption to to move from my hometown of Philadelphia to New York City to give it a go. And my father and his brother ran this car dealership in Philadelphia. The Quebec family is very well known in Philadelphia. My great grandfather sold horse carriages before automobiles were invented and then he switched over to selling cars. Of the placard on the Front of my dad and my uncle's dealership said since one thousand eight hundred and ninety nine, and I was the oldest child of all the kids and I was kind of expected to take the business over. My great grandfather was Armenian, came from Armenia, and so that there was this real kind of sense of, you know, the the the oldest takes over and in the case of the Armenians, the oldest son takes over, and so there was a lot of kind of unspoken pressure that that was my future. And so when I graduated from college, even though I didn't want to do that, I kind of just went into that because that was what was expected of me and I really struggled with the dishonesty of being a car salesman. I mean, and it's not, you know, necessarily overt, overtly dishonest, but you know, at the end of the day, like most sales you're trying to sell a product for as much as you can,...

...right, and the more profit you can you know, sell whatever your product is, the more you make, the more your company makes. It's kind of American capitalism at its best or it's worse, depending on what side of the coin, if you're the salesperson or the owner, or if you're the person that just bought a car for too much money, right. And so I did that for a while. I was pretty good at it, but it wasn't for me. And then finally I got the courage to move to New York and I needed a survival job, right, and I didn't have the I'm not a late night guy. I've never been a late night guy, so bartending was out. Kind of didn't not the most patient person, so being a server or restaurant was out, and a buddy of mine told me about this job he had. He was very mysterious about it. He didn't give me a lot of details about it. And so when I went to the interview, which was kind of in the the upper east side of a Manhattan and this kind of fancy a doorman building, and I was a broke actor, you know, living in a squalid, you know, you know, cockroach infested apartment with two other people in this tiny room. So all of a sudden I knew whoever this woman I was interviewing with. She was successful, she was wealthy, she was well to do. And when I, you know, got into her apartment, it was fancy and gorgeous and look like it was decorated out of some magazine. And and I had my resume, I actually had in a briefcase, which shows you how long ago this was, and never asked me from my resume, never asked me kind of anything about my skills, just kind of took a look at me, ask me some perfunctory questions and sent me on my way. I was pretty sure I had blown the interview wasn't getting hired. And then my buddy called and he said you're hired. You Start Training tomorrow. I still had no idea what I had been hired to do. But again, I just assumed it was some sort of sales and I knew I could do sales magazine subscriptions or get people to buy take season tickets to the theater or the opera. I had no idea. And the next day I went out to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Back then Williamsburg was hell on earth. The crack EP A, crack epidemic is getting hard. You know, I joke in the book that there were no hitsters with beards, there were no coffee shops, there were just hardlooking human beings. And went into this building, you know, no elevator, are filthy people screaming behind doors. Climb the stairs, fifth floor, walk up, whatever it was. Knocked on the door and this attractive young woman opens it. She's got a little bit of an Irish accent and she takes me in and she says come on, you'll come work in my bedroom. And then I then I thought well, maybe maybe this is a look quite a bit different from sales. And but she sits me down and she begins to show me that what we're going to do is we're going to misrepresent who we are. We're going to make up names, we're going to make up stories, and we're going to get people at corporations to tell us things that they should not. And that was the beginning of the ruse. Was it something that you picked up pretty quickly or did it take some, some practice? Can you take us back to that, that very first call you made? Of course I was terrible, you know, I was just, you know, fear strict in and she kind of did it, you know, an example call for me, and she put on this persona and she put on this Irish accent and she was telling these stories that she was a young, you know, Girl from Ireland and and and of course the operator was Irish, you know, of Irish descent, and they bonded and chatting about and the next thing I know she's getting the operator forget about somebody in a particular department or division. She's getting the operator to crack open these charts and the reader all this information and and it was just amazing to me. And so when she turned the phone over to me to do the same thing, of course, you know, the operators were basically hanging up on me. I was I was doing a lame attempt at some Irish accent because I thought at first it to do the job, you had to do an Irish accent. So you know, I was kind of weed. Can we here that accent? My God, I'm so bad. I was channeling I crost to me lucky charms to try to get it right. You know, I just kept repeating that in my head like a monster like that for me, lucky jobs, and it did not work very well. I did get any information and and this went on for quite some time. You know, it is it's one of those jobs over the years. I'll kind of fast forward a little bit, but over the years every friend I had that I was honest and told them what I did for a living, which was not not as many people, because I didn't want, you know, a lot of people to know about this, because they were not only ethical questions, they were legal questions. And so but all the friends that knew...

...about the shop, they all wanted the job. They said, Oh my God, there's a job, I can work from home and I can make great money. Sign me up. And of course this is pre Internet. Of course today everyone works at home right with Covid and people are enjoying at it and a lot of people I know don't want to go back to the office. But back in the day, you know, that wasn't really a possible ability at any jobs, and so to be able to do that, people were just jumping up and down to try the job. And Not one person, forget about lasting a day. Most people didn't last an hour right. They just were unable to do it. They were unable to even consider doing it. They would make one or two phone calls and they said forget. So that first day I kind of felt that some of that, but I needed the job. I really needed the job and I was in New York and I was going to go broke if I didn't, you know, make money. And it seemed like it, you know, was a great job for an actor because you had flexible hours. Again, he did it from home, you know, you could go to an audition and then come back and work for two hours, that you could go to another audition and come back work for three hours. So it was a perfect job for me. So I was really motivated to succeed and so I just kept working harder and harder and I, you know, had the gift of Gab, you know, being the son of a car dealer and that being an actor, I had that. So that was going for me and my dad was a financial guy. He was really into the stock market in Wall Street, and so I had a sense of that world and a lot of the calling we did was Wall Street related. We were calling major financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, and over time we branched out and we basically, you know, there was no industry that we did not go after for information, but all always the main focus was Walt Street. So so I had a sense of that world and those things. The gift of Gab, a little bit of the business sense really helped me kind of hang in there as I developed what we called the ploy, the rules. For people who haven't who are like this is blowing their mind just hearing us. So I would guess most listeners, if not all of them, I are you also like, is your main goal on these calls to get specific information, like you're given, this is what you need to be trying to extract, or was it often kind of a discovery phase on the call? Like are you taking notes during this too? I'm I'm just picturing, like, you know, essentially like a beautiful mind type of chalkboard. Yes, going on, but all maybe all within your head. I mean, one of the things that's fascinating about the job is the amount of concentration it requires. So even though you're alone in a room, you know wherever your desk is set up. For me it was always really a critical that it was super quiet, there were no distractions because the concentration required to keep your story straight, to be listening so intently, because we became professional, not only bullshitters but professional listeners, I could hear in the silence on the line what the other person was thinking about, whether they were believing my story or whether they were not believing my story. All Right, what? What did I need to say? Something else that I need to keep my mouth shut and hold for a moment. Right. And all the time that this is going on, I'm sitting here with my pad so that when they are talking, I'm writing furiously, not only taking down what they're saying but, as they're telling me information on making more notes about what other information I might try to get off of what they've just told me. Right. So, yeah, so your brain is just going hard your hand, I mean hand, would be cramping many times I'm writing so fast. Something me in college seriously. Taking that yeah, right, exactly. Yeah, and so I think it was you were saying, like your listeners have no idea about this world at you know, and in the beginning I kind of didn't understand a lot of the information that I was getting. We would be given parameters for what the client wanted, and so when we first started doing this job, remember there was no internet, there was no Linkedin, you couldn't Google, you know, JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs. What are they doing? Who are their taught people? What divisions do they have? WHO's running this team? Who's The star on that team? What products are they coming at? You know, all of the things that my clients wanted to know. And so basically, I tell people I was...

...linkedin before Linkedin was invented, and we know, we know how successful Linkedin is. All of your listeners, ninety five percent of them are on linkedin because to try to get a job, to be in the corporate world, you have to be on Linkedin, and Linkedin now has become an incredibly important tool for corporation searching for talent. But back in the day there was no way to know who is at a company without hiring someone like me to call up and what we would start with. The first thing we were asked to obtain was the company's organizational chart. Right. Who ran the group, who the managers were in the group, who the people on those teams were, what those teams did exactly, who their clients were, what deals they were working on? who were the top people on the team? Right, because back in the day, if I'm on an equity derivative sales team and I go and do an interview at another firm, I'm going to tell them I'm the best person on the team, I'm the one of the top two on the team. We would get the actual rankings right in terms of revenue, of the ten guys on the equity derivatives or Exoct rivats, whatever the team was. We would get the exact rankings so that our clients, if they wanted to coach some of those people, which of course, is what they were trying to do, because Wall Street and Corporate America is so cut throat right, they're always trying to steal the top talent. They don't want to interview the last play salesperson or the last place trader or the last place banker. They want to know who the top to who are the Rock Stars, and that was what we did. And again in the PRELINKEDIN era. That information was worth forget about millions of dollars, sometimes tens of millions, sometimes literally hundreds of millions of dollars. At one point, right before the crash of two thousand and eight, you may remember, the world was everybody was getting mortgages, you know. You know, you didn't even have that a job and you could get a mortgage on a home loan, right. And then, of course, that began this whole kind of house of cards that then kind of created the the circumstances for the, you know, the great recession, right, and when, right before the crash came, all of these corporations were doing all the the shenanigans which are detailed in the movie the Big Short, right, and they were doing all these credit default swaps and all of these complicated financial instruments, which I'm not going to go into here because it's quite complicated and also a bit boring if you really want to understand them. Who was the wonderful actress in the big short who explains what credit default swaps are why she's naked in the bathtub? Marco, Robbie Margot Robbie. Right. If you want to know about credit the fault swaps, don't listen to Robert Kurbec, go watch Margot Robbie in the bathroom. The people that were doing these deals, they were doing these trades, these deals pre crash, were making these firms insane amounts of money. One of the deals that these this team of traders at Morgan Stanley did, eight person team, netted Morgan Stanley one billion dollars on a trade. My clients wanted to know who are the eight traders on that team, because we want to steal them. KURBEC can you get us the names of those eight traders? Now, you might go, well, how hard can that be? Let me tell you, nearly impossible. Those pet it was like basically trying to go undercover into the CIA and get into, you know, the farm and and and infil trait. I mean it was so incredibly difficult. So when you got information like that, which I of course I did because I was considered at the time to be the pre arguably the pre eminent corporate spy in the world, that information from my clients was so incredibly valuable because if they were able to get one of the guys on that team. They could basically have the secrets of how those deals were done, how that deal was done, so that they could replicate that now at credit Swiss or at Goldman Sachs or at Wells Fargo or whatever firm it might have been right. And so that information that I was getting, this organizational information, which then I would build on and get more and more information. You know, we would always start with the structure of the corporation so we understood who the players were, and then we would go deeper and deeper, adding on more information. And some of that information we would just it would just come in the course of conversation. Sometimes, you know, a source would be giving the information and they would just just keep talking and talking and talking and talking, and then the next thing you know, they would tell me something that I do my God, I cannot believe they just told me that, and it was just really fascinating.

You know, it was almost like what we did was, and sort of this is true, sort of was a form of hypnosis where people were literally under the spell and once they were under the spell they would tell you anything. was there a particular piece of information, whether whether you detailed in the book or not that when you were being told it, like your jaw actually dropped because you're like, I can't believe someone's telling me this. Yeah, well, I mean, I think the most shocking things were because, remember, now I'm misrepresenting who I am. Oftentimes I'm misrepresenting and claiming to be someone within the corporation, someone of influence and power within the corporation. And so many times in these conversations, information would come up about deals that the corporation was doing which, of course, work secrets and non public. So I would learn information about acquisitions, you know, which you know, of course, if I had wanted to. And they believe it or not, because I'm telling you about these things that I did which were unethical when you know I'm lying for a living. But there was a line that I did draw and one of the lines was I was not going to trade on any of this information. You know, again, the vast majority of time I was doing this job, I was trying to be an actor, right, so I wasn't doing this job to to get rich, I wasn't doing it was just to pay the bills, you know, and that was the case for many, many years. It was only kind of later on, when I finally gave up on the dream of acting and really went full into corporate espionage, that all of a sudden than I was making real money and and you know, you'll see that transition in the book, but that was a line that I drew. I felt like, you know, me getting information that theoretically is getting people better jobs. Okay, you know, the means I'm using are, you know, you know, not above board, but you know, at the end of the day people are getting better jobs. But the idea that I would take this information that I would learn about about a secret corporate acquisition and use that to trade on it, for example stock and inside or trading, I was never going to do that. To me, that was, you know, I was already taking great enough risks with the spine, but today and also add insider trading onto it, that just seemed like a bridge too far. I felt like for sure. I feel like for sure, you know, if that happens, you are going to jail for a significant period of time and and I could have gone the jail for the fine that I did, but it seemed like it was a gamble that I was willing to take inside of trading was not a gamble I was willing to take. I think that's a fair decision in the in the long run. Taking a quick break here to share a show that I think you'll really enjoy. Did you know the big bird was originally scheduled to fly on the tragic challenge or space shuttle mission? Or how about this one? The guy who invented pringles was buried inside of a pringles can. Well, seems like a tight squeeze to me, but you do you. Here's a weird one. The CIA once invented a dart gun that would give people a heart attack without anyone knowing they'd been shot. All of these topics are from episodes of the Internet says, it's true, a podcast by comedian and magician Michael Kent. Every week a listener gives him an idea of a crazy, bizarre story from history. Of that sounds fake but is one hundred percent absolutely true. Every episode ends with Michael Giving a pop quiz on the topic to one of his show business friends. It's like taking a history class, but we're all the topics are weird and fun and you won't get lectured if you don't know something maybe that was just my experience with history. Listen and subscribe at the Internet says it's truecom or wherever you're listening to this podcast, and you would mention that earlier when you you'd tell friends about this and kind of you know, there's a very small group of people obviously writing a book that goes out to the world telling a larger amount of people. So was there a specific moment where you were kind of like, okay, I need to I need to write about this and share this story, or did that just kind of evolve over the years? I mean, the first thing is is, you know, there's a statue of limitations, right, so I haven't done this spine now for quite some time, so I'm safely outside the statue of limitations for, you know, whatever possible, you know, crimes I committed. And because I was outside the statue of limitations, I started writing about it and I was at a writer's conference and I just wrote this essay and it was kind of about my father and leaving the car dealership and leaving the collar car dealship because I just wasn't cool with the kind of you know, you know, chicanery that you need to do to pull off sales. And of course what's, you know, Ironic is that I stumble into a...

...career as a corporate spy, right, so I leave the car business because it's not honest and I stumble into something that's far more dishonors. And so I wrote a story about that and my father's reaction to it, in my relationship with my father, and I read it at a writer's conference and people flipped. I couldn't believe it, and they flipped over the whole story of corporate spine and they were just they said, I've never heard of this. You know, this is unbelievable. I didn't never knew this went on like this. Is Crazy. You have to write about this. And and I always knew it was fascinating because, like I said, whenever I would mention it to a friend, and of course I would joke at a cocktail parties, people would ask me what I do and I would joke a little bit about being a spine and they say, well, what does that mean? And I'd say well, if I told you, I'd have to take you out back Kille, and then I would leave it at that. I wouldn't say anything else. More, anything more about it because I, you know, was smart enough that, you know, I knew that what I did was for sure in the gray and and you know, maybe in the extremely dark gray in terms of legality, and I didn't want to, you know, say anything or do anything that somehow were could get around and who knew? I just was playing it very, very being very cautious, and so I think that that stead me well right because, you know, knock on wood, it looks like I've gotten away with it, so speak, and I think that when I read that at the writer's conference and I knew I was past the statue of limitations and people respond to do it so well, I said, I've got to write this book. Now it's time to tell the story. And I have been really amazed and you know, as the book is coming out now and the reviews are coming out and people are writing things about it and and that that is the consensus, is people are just flipping out going I never knew about this. I never knew that major corporations, on a daily basis, are paying people like you tons of money to spy on their competitors and it's this crazy, cutthroat world and every American Corporation, every International Corporation, is doing this and of course they do it with all these different ways and mechanisms so that they have plausible deniability, so that they can say, oh my gosh, we had no idea what Robert Curbek is doing. And, just as an example of how untrue that is, to the individuals that I personally presented my stolen information, the information that I, you know, use misrepresentation to obtain, two of those individuals are today one step away from being CEOS of their respective companies, which are two of the largest financial institutions in the world. Think about that for a second. Those individuals would say, oh my goodness, this is terrible, we have no idea, we never would have had anything to do with robber. We would have well, guess what, that's a lie. That's a lie. Now this is not your first book. You also wrote Malibua, earning the real story behind La's most devastating wildfire, which has also been very well received. So congrats on having two books that people have very much enjoyed at are excited to read and spread the word about. Obviously, they're very different stories, you know, corporate spying versus wildfires. I mean, I guess you could argue they're both, you know, like fire drills, but certainly, certainly a different topic and almost even tone between the two of them. But were you able to take some of the things that you learned from writing Malibu burning and it and apply it with rush? That's a great question. Wow, that's a great question. I don't know. I mean, you know, one of the things I learned. So I while I was in English major in College, I could never sit still long enough to write really very much and I also wanted to meet women. I was paying my way through college and so the first couple of years of college I just work thirty two hours a week while going to school, and so I just didn't have any time for any social life, which was really made college tough. And finally, my junior year I went to University of Pennsylvanian Philadelphia. My junior year I was accepted to be a resident advisor. So I got my room for free, I got my meal plan for free and I was able to not work anymore because, with the loans I was takeing aking in the R A job, I could make it rank and so the first thing I said is, man, I got to get a girlfriend, because I've been, you know, basically by myself for two years and you know, where am I...

...going to meet? You know, you know, a cool, happening, interesting woman. The theater and I had never really done a play, but I auditioned for a play and I got hired and turned out I really liked it and I started getting hired from more plays and the leads and plays and that led me into wanting to be an actor, and that's a big part of the book. How my acting career and and some really big jobs that I had working with, you know, huge famous people, getting great, incredible rave reviews and the New York Times in the New Yorker and being very close to having a very successful career. I mean I certainly worked as an actor and got a pension from the screen actors guild and had representation for over a decade, you know, manager and Asian and all that stuff. But I circled back to writing later in life, right after the acting career went away, after I gave up the spine and circled back to writing later in life in the first thing I started writing were short stories, because I always love short stories, and I wrote the short stories in the short stories started to get published, and what the short stories taught me was how to write fifteen pages, twelve pages, thirteen pages, not much more than fifteen. I run this writer's group, the MALVIOL writers circle. People are constantly bringing in the twenty seven page short story and I say I'm sorry, but that's not a short story anymore. Right, fifteen pages. John Irving, I think, said the fifth the perfect short story was fifteen pages. And Ben Percy, another really great short story writer, said when your short story hits seventeen pages, you're pushing it. And so I got in the habit of writing the short stories that were, you know, ten to fifteen pages, maybe occasionally sixteen pages, and what that taught me was how to write a chapter in a book. So now when I write chapters in a book, and now this is getting back Malibu burning and ruse is, I'm thinking about that as I'm writing a chapters, I want my chapter to be around fifteen pages, twelve pages, thirteen pages, sixteen pages, you know, and I don't make that a rule, but it definitely is a firm guideline. I know for me as a reader, you know, I like stories that move. I want I want to be excited to turn that page. And so you know, sometimes if you have whether it's a short story or whether it's a chapter in a book that's thirty two pages, you know, you know, it's really got to be, you know, lights out to hold a reader's interest for that amount of time, I think. And so the short stories helped me with writing Malibu burning. No, Malibu burning was a little bit different because each chapter told the story of the worst fire in La County history, the two thousand and eighteen wolves you fire. Each chapter told the story of the fire from a different perspective, of a different individual or maybe a different group of individuals. So that was really they were all they were almost short stories. They were short stories because they were different protagonists and they were linked by the theme of the fire. And then when I got the ruse it was a little bit different, obviously different story, and but I use that same technique, which was okay, I'm going to have these stories all linked by the through line of its it's the story of my life. But I'm going to make sure that I use these things I learned in Melbu burning and I learned in writing short stories, which is to keep these chapters, you know, a certain length so that they're moving and each chapter kind of focuses on a certain story, a certain type of ploy that I learned a certain time of life. So, for example, there's a chapter on my experience with Oj Simpson and when I work with him on the set of this exercise video right before the infamous double murders, the exercise video that I was part of and hung out with him on the set for three days while we were shooting this video and he and I became friends and that exercise video was subpoened in his trial and was part of the TV series that came out on FEX just a couple of years ago, you know. So there's a whole chapter on that incident and what it was like for me to be with Oj Simpson, working with him in that very unusual moment in time right before his world was about to fall apart, and so that that's a chapter, right, and so that. So that with these chapters, and they're all kind of little bit, you know, like stories, short stories, and their linked, of course, by the theme of taking you through my life and this crazy careers spine. I wish I had read that quote on page length before writing my own book of short stories, but I think, I think most of them are under that the fifteen page like I kind of agree. I think. I think that's a solid range to shoot for. You can can still get a nice thing. So I like I like that as a set of guidelines. And you also said segued kind of nicely there...

...with the experience of working with OJ Simpson on a workout video. I'm curious because, again, as an actor, you go on a lot of auditions, seeing, you know, a lot of a lot of different scripts, all that good stuff. What's the most unusual thing you've auditioned for? It might be that exercise video. Honestly, it might be because, and of course it's easy to say that in retrospect, right, but you know, what happened was my manager at the time is married in this woman who's a director and she did directed a lot of you know, basically you'd call them in infommercials, right, and Nancy directed these in commercials and she was directing this exercise video with OJ Sonson and my manager called me up one day and he said, hey, how do you want to make you want to make some easy money, you know, Nancy's directing this exercise video. One of my managers, this Great Guy Bob McGowan. Bobby represented Julie Roberts in the early days and he's represented many, you know, really wellknown actors and he's Great Guy. And he said, Hey, one of his other clients, Mike Mahon, who's a friend of mine, Mike's going to do it. You know, you get a free get free sneakers and at the time I remember my sneakers had a hole in them that I was using shoe glue to plug, right, because I remember I'm a broke actor, right, and so my shoes are falling apart. And so in the idea of free sneakers plus pay to do this exercise video, I said sign me up. You know, you know who's it with? What's it up? OJ Simpson, you know, and I grew up, I'm of an hero where I remember Oja as a football star and I remember him as the announcer on Monday night football and I remember him from the Avis commercials, you know, hurdling the the turnstile and you know, he was sort of a hero, right, and so I'm like, Oh my God, I'm gonna get the me know j Simpson and hang out with it. You know, this is incredible. And so we, you know, we went, my buddy Mike and I. We went to this video and I thought I was told it was going to be we were going to be doing push ups and sit ups and guy stuff. It was at workout video for guys, because I'm the worst dancer in the history of mankind. I said it right up front. It said there's no dancing in this is no, no, no, it's just guy stuff, jogging, boxing, you know. And the first day I get there and I'm introduced to the choreographer and the room that we're going to shoot in. It's a dance floor and I already have a predisposition to sweating when I'm nervous, and instantly I'm like soaking with right. I'm just, you know, just like sweating. I'm a basket case. And and then, of course, sure enough, they line us up and they it's the choreographer, who's this guy, to really beautiful women, Mike, Myself and Ojan right, and the choreographer does this little series of routines. The two women get it instantaneously. Mike is a really good athlete. He picks it up. Oh Jay's obviously a heisman trophy winner, all pro he picks it up and I am lost, lost, just looking literally like the proverbial you know, you know, Kuk on the dance floor and the choreographer comes over. I'm pretty sure he's going to say, Robert, you're fired. You know, get the hell out of here. How did you get this job? You know, and OJ makes a joke. Hey, rob thanks for making me look so good, and because Oj made that joke they didn't fire me because OJ basically said, hey, this guy is making me look good, and so so, basically, oh Je vouch for me. He was basically saying, look, I want someone in this because I think he was a little nervous about some of the dance kind of moves and he you know, it's his video and he's got a reputation and he did not want anybody looking at him like he wasn't as good. And so right away the attention would all be good on me in terms of the bad dance moves, and that was the start of this kind of connection that Oj and I had on the set where he was became my buddy. He was such a bridget and this is what's amazing because of course we know a very, very different side, than a horrible side, of Oj Simpson, but at the time he was this incredibly gregarious, friendly, charming man who took a liking to me, not that my friend might not to the choreographer, not to anybody else. I don't know why, but he just became my bud and at one point he said to me, Hey, rob you want to see this, this new pilot that I did, and he takes me and he pops in a video cassette and he pulls me aside and the only one he was showing was...

...me and say hey, this is my character. It's this show about Navy seals and my character is a knife expert. I think about that for a second. Right, he's just shot this pilot where he's playing a knife expert. I had, I had to undergo training for the film. Think about that. Yet the undergo training and he's a knife expert. It's just unbelievable. And so he shows me this video and he bonds with me, but as the shoot goes on he starts to hit on this attractive blond woman and again, I didn't realize this at the time, but once I saw photos of Nicole Brown Simpson on TV after she'd been murdered, I realized how much Nicole Brown Simpson resembled the female dancer in this exercise video. It was shocking and of course at the time I didn't know that. But OJ starts hitting on this woman and he starts doing so in a really horrible, harassing manner and he's saying horrible things in front of the cast, in front of the crew, in front of the female director, in front of me, about what he's going to do to her and how many children they're going to have. And at a certain point I pulled her aside and I said, Hey, you know, look, you you know. Do you want to call somebody? You want to call the screen actors guild? We can get the screen actors guild down here in a heart peak and you know, they'll put a monitor on the set and he'll have to stop and and I couldn't kind of tell you know what she wanted to do, but she you know, but she said no, and and my senses that you know and remember back in the day. This is in the mid S, I'm sure she was concerned that all that would happen is that she get fired. I, of course I would have been fired because back in the day, you know, the star was the star and that kind of behavior that we would not tolerate, I hope and pray we would not tolerate on the set today, was somehow acceptable. And she said no, no, you know, I can handle I'll deal with it whatever. And and so I didn't say anything. And it was really, you know, terrible behavior. And and I write about that and and some other things that he said on the set which you're really just you know, just you meet. When you read them, you'll be dumbfounded. It's really quite incredible, especially now, of course, you know what happened. Hearing what he said on the set, it's just like, you know, you you just can't make this stuff up. Always the things where you're like certainly that can't be true, that that are the true things like that. If someone tried to create that out of thin air, they probably wouldn't be able to. But then it happens in real life and it's yeah, it's just wild to think about. But again, I feel like again segue and kind of nicely into our final question. You're almost off the hook. Care but your time three you have met a lot of people, both through acting and through book promotions and just, you know, being a like you're saying, being good with the gift of Gab in bullet to meet new people and connect with them pretty quickly. So let's hear your top three favorite celebrities who worked with well, I think number one would have to be Paul Newman, and I did work directly with Paul, but I was invited. Paul and his wife saw me in a play I did at the actors studio and one day I came home and there was a message on my voicemail from Joan woodword inviting me to their home for this salon type of event and and I was so excited to get the call, but I was also kind of a little disappointed. I thought maybe they were inviting me up there to like do a reading, but it didn't seem like a reading. was a little unclear, but I went up there and of course they live on museum mile on the upper east side, which is probably the fanciest block in Manhattan, and you know, I take the elevator. Of course it's forget about doorman. I think they had three doormen and I take the elevator up to the pent health of courts and see the door opens into this foyer and this room and as I walk in there was nobody there to greet me. I walk in, I'm looking at all this incredible art on the wall, all these beautiful knockoffs of money and, you know, Picasso and whatever other famous artist, and I realized these aren't knockoffs, these are actual works of MON A and Picasa and, you know, it was really quite staggering. And then I go in and and they're all these, you know, actors gathered around their beautiful, spectacular living room and Paul Newman sitting in a chaise...

...lounge drinking a beer at zero am on a Sunday morning with the rest of the six pack sitting at his feet. And it turns out that we're going to read a movie script that they're thinking of, that a friend of theirs road and they're going to make this movie and it's about this race car driver and I am I've been asked to read the race car driver in this script, which, of course, was the part Paul Newman would have played if he were twenty five years old, which of course he was not at that time. And I was, and so it was a pretty shocking moment where I was basically being asked to read the Paul Newman part in front of Paul Newman. And and Joan was very, very sweet, very very kind of but the reason she didn't want me to tell me in advances because she didn't want me to get nervous. She want me to freak out and be tongue, you know. And yet now they've thrown this on me and they were all these other famous actors they are reading as well. Karen Allen was my love interest and it was pretty incredible. and Said, just reading this movie script where you know you're playing the part that Paul Newman would have played twenty years earlier whatever, while he's sitting there drinking beer and occasionally burping. It was just it was just beyond on right. And and they were really I mean he's he was quite a quiet man, but she was as kind as kind can be, and so that was just a really memorable experience. I think OJ would, unfortunately, would have to come in it number two for obvious reasons. It's not every day you work with someone who's going to kill two people a week later. And then, of course, the exercise video was actually recreated in that fx TV series that came out a couple of years the people versus OJ Simpson and so an actor got played, got paid to play me in the exercise video in the reenacting. Did you think they did a good job? You know, it was funny is they added a red headband and two red armor arm bands, which I thought was a little over the top, but it was very funny. So yeah, they didn't call me though, to ask me. You know what I was thinking when I was jumping up and down. I was a little disappointed they didn't. They want they didn't want to know what my motivation was. I thought they'd really didn't do enough research. But what can you do? Sorry, maybe the next next go round look at and then the third was this wonderful actress, seal a ward, and you may if you were a TV buff and a film buff. CILIA has just had an amazing career. She kind of her came to you know, we really learned from her, learned of her in this TV series sisters back in the s. She played teddy, she was one of the leads, and then she just went on to have this amazing career. She played Harrison Ford's wife who got murdered in the fugitive, which was an amazing film in the late S, and then she's just continued to work. She was in God David Fincher's gone girl. She was she's most recently has been in the series on CBS FBI, and she just worked nonstop and when I worked with her own sisters, I've worked with her and George Clooney and she was just the most beautiful woman I'd ever worked with and the kindest person and really kind of took me under her wing. It was my first kind of lead in a TV series. I had a recurring part on sisters and she just made it so easy and and I never forgot that. And I would run into her periodically in Hollywood and she would always stop. I ran in or on a set one day and she stopped filming and came over and said Hi. Really just an amazing person. Fantastic varied list. Yes, yes, yes, now. Now What's interesting is you didn't ask me my least favorite people leave. So I mean that. I mean we leave if we want to get a little I mean, I'm down. I always enjoy a good, good smear campaign. What you got. Well, look, I I think I have the bag on Madonna because my wife worked from Madonna at Madonna's record company, Maverick records, and Madonna on a basically had a policy where you couldn't look at macdonnat in the hallway. You were not supposed to acknowledge her presence. And you know, I you know, we hear those stories about, you know, you can't look at this actor on set, you can't do this, and when I hear those things, it just it just, I mean it. First of all, that breaks my heart that somebody would even say that to somebody else, but it just just makes me so disgusted that someone literally thinks that they're, you know, basically royalty in the seventeen hundreds and that the rest of the people in a work environment or on a movie set are surps right and they are not to look at the at the queen or the King Right. They do not have...

...permission to look them in the eye or, God forbid, to talk to them. So, you know, that was something that when my wife would tell me these stories, and she worked there quite some time, that she had a pretty big job there. So she you know, I mean you know wasn't like she was just getting coffee. And she literally was the assistant to the head of an R and had extensive dealings with Madonna, who almost never acknowledged her, never spoke to her by name, never greeted her. Pretty pretty disturbing behavior. So there you go, Madonna. Congratulations. What goes around comes around. Congratulations. Be Better. Yeah, but please love it, please, and so should maybe, and maybe she is today, you know, you know, I'll give her a little slack, you know. Look, I've made plenty of mistakes in life, right, so let's let's hope and pray that the Donna is a lovely, kind human being today. But she was not in the S, in the mid S, when she worked or when she owned maverick records. Yes, hopefully, as she's gotten older, has mellowed and it's it's a redemption story I can all get behind. I like it, ha ha ha. Well, I have a very good friends as the not Madonna fanatic for fanatic, and I told my friend the story of Madonna and he paused, thought about it for second and he said, I still love her. So there you go. Her, farn her. She's got plenty of fans, you know, she's going to be far. I'd love it. Well, Robert Rus comes out. Ruse, lying the American dream from Hollywood to Wall Street, comes out on February twenty two. If people want to pre order their copy, pick it up, learn more about you. Where can they go? Well, I take go to my website, Robert Kerbeccom, and from my website you can order it anywhere you want to order it, independent book stores, Barnes and Noble, God forbid Amazon, but you can. You can, and you can also learn a little bit about some other things that I've written, play short stories, films and and also, obviously, elible burning. So, Robert Kerviccom, that's what I'd recommend. Fantastic. Well, as always, I don't think I've said that word correctly. Fantastic. There we go. As always, a delight to chat with you. Thanks so much for popping on the PODCAST. Well, thanks for having me and thanks for being so gentle. This was my first ruse interview and I had a blast. That's what I'm here for, is is setting you up for success, and then it's hopefully not just straight downhill from here. We can no, no, no, no, it's all good. It's all good look for the Ruse TV series coming to a screen near you soon. I can't wait. I've already got already got the DVR set. It's going to be nice, fantastic and of course, I don't think you'll have this with any of your other appearances here. We got to wrap up with a Corny joke, as we always do, keeping it topical for this one to did you hear about the writer that became a tailor? I did not. He had to make an earnest living the hemming way. Good after tell people. Good people cool things is produced in Austin, Texas. If you were a fan of this episode, go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here the show. You can send me a message Joey at good people cool thingscom. Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people cool things. Check out all the old episodes via good people, cool thingscom. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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